"Last Minute Redemption"

Content: Excessive content and/or worldview problems.

What You Need To Know:

FLIGHT is a harrowing drama about an airline pilot with a serious substance abuse problem. Denzel Washington plays Whip Whitfield, a drunken pilot who miraculously saves a troubled passenger plane with some wild flying. The investigation into the successful crash landing threatens to bring Whip’s alcoholism to light. A crafty lawyer and a new girlfriend may help Whip escape jail time. However, can Whip get sober and overcome his personal demons before a public hearing on the incident exposes his weakness? A moral dilemma forces the question in a dramatic, profound way.

FLIGHT is masterfully directed and acted. The script is brilliantly written. Also, the skeptical, alcoholic protagonist is often confronted by issues of recovery and Christian faith. Despite this positive content, it isn’t until the very end that he actually begins to confront these issues. Until he does, the movie presents viewers with many scenes of sinful excess. Those scenes include radical substance abuse, lots of strong foul language and a scene with excessive, explicit nudity. FLIGHT is a rough movie to watch, despite the profound ending.


(C, BB, H, Ab, LLL, VV, SS, NNN, AAA, DD, MM) Light Christian, ultimately redemptive worldview with strong moral attitude against substance abuse that includes a positive appeal to God at the climactic moment of truth, some other positive references to God, faith, church, and Jesus (often in the background rather than the foreground, however), plus a pro-recovery message, but mixed with some humanist attitudes against faith and against God along with an Anti-Christian scene where two conservative Christian characters are portrayed as over-zealous, but the movie’s subtext suggests they might have been partially right after all, mitigated by heavy scenes featuring alcohol abuse, alcoholism, cocaine use, and sexual relationships; 82 obscenities, 10 strong profanities, five light exclamatory profanities; strong violence includes plane passengers intensely buffeted by storm, plane goes into steep dive when tail doesn’t work properly, man flies plane upside down to stabilize it, plane’s wing clips church steeple, plane has rough landing in a field, people on endangered plane fall down, flight attendants thrown about, flight attendant gets foot caught, flight attendant helps child get back into seat, flight attendant’s body shown crushed somehow, but nothing very graphic shown; highly charged sexual scene in the beginning as couple wakes up in bed and woman parades around totally nude for a pretty long time, plus implied fornication and brief passionate kissing; sometimes obscured full frontal female nudity and extensive upper and rear female nudity in one lengthy scene, plus upper and rear male nudity; extreme alcohol abuse and drunkenness as plot involves an alcoholic airline pilot with a severe alcohol problem, but the plot question asks whether the man will realize his problem, confront it and take care of it; smoking and cocaine use to counter the effects of alcohol abuse and appear somewhat sober, woman shoots up heroin but later decides to go into rehab, and drug dealer sometimes comes across as an iconoclastic hero; and, lying, deceit, people try to hide pilot’s alcohol problem, alcoholic man in denial rejects AA recovery options for his own substance abuse problem, and alcoholic man has tense relationship with adult son who lives in another state with man’s ex-wife.

More Detail:

FLIGHT is a harrowing drama about an airline pilot with a serious substance abuse problem. The pilot saves nearly everyone on board when he crash lands a disabled passenger plane, but the investigation threatens to reveal that the pilot was also high at the time. Ultimately, FLIGHT is a story of hope and redemption, but the journey is an extremely frank portrayal of substance abuse and excess.

The movie stars Denzel Washington as airline pilot Whip Whitaker. It opens with Whip and his lover, a flight attendant named Trina, getting out of bed after a night of debauchery. Trina is totally naked as Whip drinks some more alcohol, then tries to regain his sobriety with a sniff or two of cocaine. Cut to Whip striding confidently down the hotel hallway as he heads for work.

Whip and Trina are scheduled to take a routine jaunt from Miami to Atlanta. Before taking off, Whip secretly sneaks a couple mini-shots of vodka into his orange juice. Then, while taking off, the plane encounters terrible turbulence from a rainstorm. Whip decides to fly the plane at a steep angle to take it above the storm. By doing this, he gets the plane out of trouble, much to the great relief of everyone on board.

The stress and night of debauchery finally gets to Whip, and he takes a little snooze while the plane is entering the Atlanta airspace. Suddenly, however, the copilot has trouble with the tail, and the plane takes a sudden steep dive. Everyone goes into panic mode, except for Whip. He decides the only way to stabilize the plane is to fly it upside down. After a harrowing ten minutes, Whip manages to crash land the plane in an open field after it tears the steeple off a country church.

The media hails Whip as a hero. However, the government’s investigation into the crash landing threatens to reveal Whip’s substance abuse problem. A lawyer thinks he can get Whip’s alcohol level pushed out of the investigation on a technicality, but what about the two tiny bottles of vodka that turned up empty on the plane?

As Whip fights for his career, he meets a kindred spirit, a recovering heroin addict named Nicole. Nicole may be just what Whip needs, but his continuing alcoholism threatens to derail everything.

FLIGHT is masterfully directed and acted. The story’s troubled protagonist is clearly skeptical when it comes to faith, but his character is often forced to confront the God question and similar faith issues. Despite this, it isn’t until the very end that he really begins to face such questions. Until he does, the movie presents viewers with many scenes of sinful excess, including strong foul language. The nudity and substance abuse in the first scene, and the substance abuse and foul language in the rest of the movie, are clearly excessive. They warrant extreme caution. FLIGHT is a rough movie to watch, despite the profound ending.